This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

Tea Masala

This morning I made tea masala for the first time. Two years ago I traveled through six different countries in Africa for five weeks. I constantly drank tea masala. When I booked that trip I had no idea that it was the beginning of a new journey for me but it was a fitting place to start that journey.

Wanje Latte


In some indigenous cultures children are not given a name at birth. Their name is given as their character develops. Though that seems strange to me in many ways because that is not the culture I know, I think it is beautiful. Names mean things.

I was given a Kenyan name and I feel like the past two years have been a process of owning that name. Exploring its heights and depths. What are it’s limits and strengths. The world will give us lots of names. Some we take and put on to see if they fit. We look in the mirror and we keep the garment on, positive or not. Some we can look at on the hanger and know they are not for us.

The more you know who you are, the more you know what doesn’t fit you.

I remember as a teen “liking” everything that my boyfriend liked because I had no idea who I truly was. As you discover who you originally were, by digging under the layers of whats been put on you and you did not know to take off,  you start to explore your place in the world. This is me, so how do I fit with the rest of you?

My journey, from birth through self-discovery, has taken me to this place and I am now in process of putting some of it to print. I am working with an editor for the purpose of publishing a memoir. Our stories are powerful. Our stories can help each other. That includes my story.

I’ll keep you posted…

I Refuse to Be Sorry

Human relationships are fascinating things. There are different kinds of relationships and even different values we ascribe to the relationships or each other. I had plans to work on a few projects during this time and those plans have not changed. I often need help or guidance with projects that I work on. COVID has had different impacts on different people and some people have found themselves having more time and others with less.

A new friend of mine, who is someone I greatly admire, has been giving me guidance on one of my projects. He is also someone whose time has been filled with more things to do since COVID hit and I would not have guessed he had more time in his already full life. These past few weeks I keep feeling the need to apologize for asking more questions and needing more help. This week I took some time to analyze why I felt this strong urge to say sorry.

First I attributed it to being Canadian, and although that’s valid, I knew it was deeper than that. So when I kept digging I discovered that it is because of how I view the relationship and the values I have given that make me want to apologize. I hold him in such high regard and view his time as valuable, which it is. But the problem enters in that there is something inside of me that is not feeling that I am worth the valuable time he takes to help me. I feel like I want to say sorry for taking some time that could be spent on something or someone else that would be more valuable.

Now that I have pulled that out of me, I can look at it and say that that is garbage. Why would I think I am not worth spending time on? I am a valuable person with dreams and ambitions. I work hard to help others and this project will do that. I will not be sorry or feel bad for having others invest in me. I am worth investing in.

So I am making a conscious decision to channel those feelings (whenever I feel them because they will keep coming up) and use them to push me to continue to work hard and make the world better. I chose to also invest in others. People are worth investing in. Things may not always turn out how you had hoped but your efforts are not wasted. People are worthy of love, time, and attention. That includes me.

Please Help Someone

I had started this blog last week but had not finished it. Then the mental health piece of COVID 19 hit my family very close to home and very hard. COVID may take people who were fairly stable and push them to a dark place. People who were already in a dark place may not be able to see any possibility of hope.

Yesterday my friend Lisa said, “we are not all in the same boat but we are all in the same storm.” People who struggle with mental health during non pandemic times were in their own storms. Now everyone is in a storm so, to be honest, it’s not that hard to find people who are struggling. Many people are pushed to the limits of what their physical, financial, emotional, and mental health can take. In this storm there are many people who are drowning. You don’t have to look far. So in light if this, here is the rest of my blog:

This morning I am reflecting on all the offers of help. For the first few weeks of the physical distancing measures I saw posts on social media offering meals to anyone who would send a message and ask for it. There are help lines set up for children and women who are being abused. The covert offerings for women to send a Facebook message asking to buy makeup which would signify that the woman is not safe but she can’t say that directly. But all of these things, though well intended, are missing the target in a big way.

 People who are drowning can not call for help. We need to stop expecting that they can reach out or ask. If you want to help someone – then do it. ANYONE. Just make a call to check in. Drop off a meal – don’t ask if they need it, just do it. Who will be angry with thoughtfully delivered free food? Who would hate that you sent a message to say – hey I’m thinking about you, how are you doing really because this is tough?

We can use this time to reflect on the kind of person we want to be. If you want to be more generous or kind then NOW IS YOUR TIME. Do not wait to think you’ll do it after the pandemic is over. It won’t be over for a long time and if you buy into that line of thinking then you just wish you were a better person but your not actually going to do anything about it.

If you think you don’t know anyone who might be in an abusive situation or who is struggling then bring food to a single parent, or some toys for their kids. Single parenting is hard in normal times let alone in a pandemic. Check in on people. I’ve received a few messages from people to see how I am and they have meant the world to me.

Let’s also not forget this is a Global pandemic. Someone else contacted me about being a child sponsor and that made my month! You can help locally and global, the world needs help.

Stop waiting for an opportunity, opportunities are all around you. Go get them.

Below are numbers you can call if you do need help (please do reach out for help if you need it). If you are concerned about the safety or welfare of someone you can also call these numbers.

*Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or Text CONNECT to 686868

*Fraser Health Crisis line: 604-951-8855 or 1-877-820-7444 (toll free)- trained volunteers provide emotional crisis support 24 hrs/day, 7 days a week.

*Mental Health Support Line (24/7 all ages):


*Emergency Mental Health Crisis: Call 911 – Car 67 Mental Health Police Response

*Suicide Prevention Crisis Line: 1-800-784-2433

*Suicide Prevention Education and Counselling (SPEAC): 604-584- 5811

This is a challenging time in many ways and on many levels. It is impossible to process all that is happening, especially because once you begin to get a footing, everything changes and you are upended again. It feels as though we are living in a time where there is no right answer and we just make decisions the best that we can for ourselves, our families, and others. This includes our leaders.

The amount of anger that is being spewed onto social media towards world leaders and organizational leaders is beyond toxic. I stand firmly that leaders need to be held to account, but what I have seen is not a demand for accountability. It seems to be a vile outpouring of hatred towards the people and organizations themselves. I surmise that this comes from a place of fear. Conspiracy theories abound and many of them are attacks against people and organizations that do work to help the most impoverished.

This is heartbreaking to me. At a time when we need to stand together the most, some are using the opportunity to attack based on their agenda. They see the world as black and white with no alternatives. They do not see that organizations and governments are run by people, people who make mistakes and fail. Again, I want to reiterate that I strongly believe that people and groups need to be held accountable for their actions but when a mistake happens why are there some who are wanting to condemn the entirety of the organization?

Life is not black and white. I don’t know if it is a life experience or maturity level that needs to be reached to understand that life has more than two colors. It is a multi-color prism of blue, burgundy, green, violet, tangerine, aquamarine and so much more! This means that life is complicated. It means that people make mistakes but not that they are out to get you and implant microchips in your brain to control you.

This aspect of our world right now saddens me, but greater than this are people who are seeing the opportunities and stepping up to the plate. People are being innovative like never before. They are not going to let social distancing measures stop important work to help others or they are seeing new needs and working to meet them. I am hopeful for these new innovations to make our world better and more improved as we take steps forward. Can technology be used to improve our justice system that grinds so slowly that many people are not seeing justice? Can it be used to reduce emissions as business’ realize how many people can be effective without having to physically be in the office?

Our world as we know it has been taken apart. When we put it back together again I don’t want it to go back to the way it used to be. Let us use this opportunity to improve ourselves and our world. We can only do that together. I’ve got my crayons, will you meet me with yours and lets color the world?


Today we were supposed to be on a plane to Poland. It was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime that I had saved for. It was possibly the last trip we all take together. The oldest graduates sooner than it feels like he should and our lives are going to go in different directions. We will always be connected, but things are going to change, as they are supposed to. If I did my job right as a parent then I will have taught my children how to be independent of me.

When Madrid started closing their schools, I knew for certain we had to pull the plug on that dream. We have tickets for Auschwitz because learning about history and standing in the place where it happened are two different things. The first is important but the second holds a power in the impact that is never forgotten. It was that way for me when I was in Rwanda and I wanted to share that with my kids.

So I had to pivot and adjust. I tried to rework the trip to go to Mexico, especially after learning that one of our family members is having serious health issues. I felt that perhaps the pivot was because we needed to be with our family. Yet here we are on March 22 at home after a week of self-isolation and many more to come. We live with a vulnerable person so we had cordoned off quickly and understand that this is the beginning of a long journey.

There is grief for any type of loss. Loss of a job, loss of a dream, loss of hopes. There is fear when there is uncertainty. What will happen in the future? How will we make things work, things like rent and food? Will the company, and all I have worked for and accomplished with it go down with a pandemic?

The oddity of it all is that I know that in this isolation I am not alone in these feelings. So many people had to pivot hard and fast on their plans. So many people are staring down unemployment. So many are trying to make sense of it all when none is to be had. It’s all incredibly surreal. Some moments I am strategizing on how to be the best mom, leader, daughter, etc. and others I am under a blanket eating cheezies and watching the office for the fourth time through.

It seems impossible to have any sense of a solid plan because the future is completely uncertain. There are no definitive answers. People at this point are trying to make decisions on the information that they have at the moment, but moments pass and information changes. It feels like you are trying to make a solid structure from cornstarch and water. It holds its shape long enough for you to see it and then it dissolves into a white puddle.

I have no answers only questions. Time will pass and it will tell me what I did right and what could have been better. With each ticking second, I watch the white milky substance drip through my fingers and wonder what will emerge at the end of it all. It will not be the same because I will not be the same.

Reclaiming Holidays

There are a lot of holidays in Canada. It feels that way for someone who is not a holiday person. I am sure for many people it is a lovely time to get together with family and connect or to celebrate Jesus or bunnies or your special someone on the day of love. I don’t have great memories of holidays growing up. My family was dysfunctional and that played out on holidays as well as every other day of the year.

Then I got married and if anything was to happen, the weight fell on me. If it was successful then that was meeting expectations: no real displays of appreciation because that was what I was supposed to do. If it was not good then it was my fault and I had failed as a wife and mother. So eventually I really stopped trying. I did the best I could to still give my kids some positive memories by hiding Easter eggs and I still always decorated for Christmas but my kids knew that I would rather not do any of it.

After my divorce, I ignored thanksgiving all together. It was easy because there were no invites to dinner and since I cook dinner for my kids every other night why would I prepare a large meal that takes more effort to make AND clean up.  The kids would eat but someone would complain because you can never please all of them and it would leave me exhausted and questioning the purpose. The year that I didn’t do anything felt good. After that, I decided we were eating pizza for dinner on Christmas with birthday cake and going to a movie. Over the years I have been finding things that the kids and I all enjoy. It definitely has been getting easier as they get older.

This past year something has changed. It’s not that I am really excited to celebrate holidays per se, but I am not dreading them and that is significant. I never in my life have looked forward to Valentine’s day. In elementary I watched kids all around me with stuffed valentine bags and I would get two or three that you could tell were from kids whose moms made them make a valentine for every kid in the class. I appreciate those moms because it was definitely better than getting nothing but I still felt like a complete loser.

I am excited about tomorrow. I have done somethings for some very special people in my life to make them feel valued and appreciated. I specifically chose people that are not likely to get a valentine and who have been working tirelessly for their kids. I have plans instead of sitting home and pretending its not the big V-day.

Today I learned, is Galentines day. I think Galentines day should just hijack the entirety of Valentines but regardless of which day it’s celebrated on, the concept is fantastic. More days of the year need to be Galentines day where women celebrate women. Social media, magazines, TV and movies have women ripping each other apart with their judgments and critiques. Let’s celebrate each other! So tomorrow I bought my kids chocolates and am writing them love letters and I am celebrating some very special women.

February is hard. It’s my brother’s birthday month (who passed away) and the month that my baby was due that I lost. But February 2020, I am doing well. I’m starting to thrive. I am reclaiming my life, myself, and who would have ever thought, but also holidays.

Do You Want To Fight?

Our perceptions of people originate in a very connected way to ourselves and how we interact with the world. This is why it’s so important to really know ourselves: how we operate and make the decisions that we do. Why some things evoke strong emotions from us and not others. The better we know ourselves the healthier our relationships with others will be.


I have often been asked the question (or one similar to it): are you looking for a fight? Sometimes it comes as an accusation: you like to start a fight! If the truth is told, neither is true of me. I grew up in a home that fighting was routine, be it either my parents or one of my parents with my older brother. In the early days, things were thrown and broken but there were always loud voices. Though I would never want someone to grow up this way (and I have worked hard for this pattern to not continue with my children and sometimes fail) I wonder if it has been a direct contributor to my ability to not back down in the face of conflict.

There is a massive difference between fighting and healthy conflict. Fighting is a form of conflict but it’s not a healthy one. Conflict is inevitable in life but how you handle it is essential to health. I am the type of person who likes to take conflict head-on. I will engage in it when I believe it to be important. I have learned as I get older that some of the conflicts I thought were important are actually not. I try to be selective about my conflict but I don’t hide from it.

This is likely why some people view me as a person who looks for or enjoys fighting but I think that could be a larger reflection of them than me. Some people are quiet and fear, hide, or refuse to enter into conflict. I could say things about those people and put them in a box because of that behavior but I don’t. I’m saddened when I see it because it’s not healthy- it’s actually just as unhealthy as dealing with conflict in an angry way but more socially acceptable for understandable reasons.

But just as I don’t want to look down on them for how they handle conflict I would hope people would do the same for me but it continues that people misunderstand my straightforwardness or sometimes outright confrontation. I want to deal with things that need to be dealt with. I want to not hide things in the darkness. If there is an issue let’s put it on the operating table, cut that sucker open, and figure out what’s making it ugly so we can deal with it and move forward in a healthy way. This is an uncomfortable process. People feel more comfortable with the monster festering under the table or in the closet. At the risk of sounding like Rihanna, I am friends with the monsters under my bed because I know them and we work together. I am finding ways to use my weaknesses to help myself and others. Mark Manson said that our weaknesses lose power if we embrace them. I am grabbing hold of my monsters and teaching them so that they don’t lead me. Ignoring things doesn’t make them go away, ever.

If you want to view me negatively because I own my faults and dive into conflict then I’m very ok with that. I like who I am and am confident in myself – even my weaknesses. I do my best to speak the truth in love and apologize when I fail but if my personality, values, and how I live my life don’t work or feel comfortable for you, that’s ok. It’s my life, not yours. We can set up some healthy boundaries that work for both of us 😉

I am reading Arlene Dickinson’s newest book called “Reinvention”. I’m half way through and I love it. I have loved her since I saw her on Dragons Den and wanted to be like her in so many ways. A strong woman entrepreneur.

She talks about when she first started on the show and how intimidating it was to be a role model but then she saw that it was her imperfections that made her a good leader. It made her relatable and human. She didn’t have flashy degrees that made her what she was – she was who she was because she worked hard and was true to herself.

This inspires me because I can can definitely embody those two things – imperfection and being myself. Being imperfect is easy but being true to yourself is harder because you have to let your imperfections show. They are a part of who you are. Leaders who “have it all together” will have more followers, until the armour tarnished and cracks appear – because they will, and then people will be disillusioned. An imperfect leader may not have some people follow because they are disillusioned from the start but those kinds of people will just jump from one “perfect” leader until they fail and then they will find another. Those people do this because they can not accept the imperfections within themselves.

Everyone fails. To fail is to be human. I make a ton of mistakes all the time but I do my utmost to own them. They are my mistakes and I desire to learn from them and grow. I’ll share them with you and I hope you share yours with me so we can grow together. I know that airing my imperfections in a public place, like I have here, has hindered some potential opportunities but I would rather be real and accepted for who I am than pretend.

My degrees don’t make me who I am – which is why I do not want to ever be called doctor. My company doesn’t make me who I am- I built that but it’s not a definition of Amanda. Even being a mom- which is the best thing in the world, does not define me. I am me because of my character and my core values. Take me or leave me, that’s up to you but you know what your getting: imperfections and all.

To Be Where My Feet Are

I have been so blessed to be able to travel as much as I have. There are still so many placed I have not gone and want to go, as well as many I want to go back to. A few weeks ago I got to spend some time with someone I highly respect named Bob Goff and he spoke about being where your feet are.

For many who have suffered trauma, it has been a necessary life skill to learn how to be in another place in your mind, as far away from where your feet are as possible. This also happens when I am preoccupied with other things. Sometimes this is not bad because I have a lot of things on the go and I need to remember deadlines or projects, but it has been too common that I have not been where my feet are when I could or should have been.

This skill is something I am taking to heart and practicing being intentional about. There is an aspect of my job that requires me to be on call 24/7 but even still I am leaning more on my team so that my phone can be off when I am doing schoolwork or spending time with my kids. You can call during our family game night but I will likely have to get back to you.

Sometimes I consciously think in my head, “what is in this moment that I need to get out of it?” I am finding a lot of peace in that. I have always been a destination person. I don’t like to stop on road trips or ‘enjoy the journey’ if you will and I think in many ways that won’t significantly change because I am a goal-driven person but there is a balance. There are things to experience on the way and I am finding ways to not miss those but also to not get off track.

The future looks so bright and I can not wait to get there, but it will not come one second sooner than it will so right now I am discovering what is here in the now. I can’t wait to be done course work but I found myself in a course I really love (finally haha). I am actually reading all of the textbook for that class instead of skimming to find the answers. I’m not saying I will do that for all courses but I am happy I can do that for this one. I’m going to get as much out of it that I can while still counting the days until there are no more assignments due.

There are still lots of times things go wrong or life is just plowing me with lemons but I will either find or make peace in the chaos. I will play my piano. I will go to the gym. I will cuddle my youngers or listen to my olders share what is important to them. I will let the sunshine fall on my face and soak through to my soul. I will surf the waves and ride them as far as I can, sometimes falling, but every time getting back up on my board.


That’s Not My Experience

Society is built by relationships. We enter the world and build relationships with our family or people around us. We grow and our network expands to people at school and eventually our workplace. We develop social interests and connect with others there as well. There is a level of social trust that happens with each relationship. It can be gained and lost but it also can be rebuilt. Relationships are built on whom we know someone to be. We will have closer relationships with those you trust more and distance from those you don’t.

We build a narrative about someone based on our observations and experiences. If you ask me about my friends I will tell you my perception of them and whom I know them to be. I will believe my perception of that person to be true. So what happens when your perception of someone and mine do not align? I will deny your perception to be true and default to what I believe to be true, BUT does that actually mean that my perception is true? This is a critical question we have to ask ourselves rather than automatically defaulting to our truth because not asking the question is destroying people and allowing predators to continue to consume at will.

I just watched the Netflix documentary on Bikram Choudhury and he is a perfect example of someone whom people perceive to be one way, but the truth is contrary. He’s far from being the only one. I recently read about Jerry Sandusky who was given awards and accolades for his work with young people as well as Larry Nassar. All three of these people were well known and respected in their fields but behind closed doors they are predators. This truth contradicts how many people knew them to be.

I walked alongside a young woman who was assaulted. I saw the bruises on her body. Her predator was a friend of the family she was living with and when confronted by police they chose to hinder the police investigation because their perception of him was contrary to someone who would hurt a teenage girl, but that didn’t make it less true. Another book I read gave the story of a teenage girl who was preyed upon by her high school teacher. When it went to trial the prosecution put girls on the stand who were more popular and prettier than she was as if to present an argument that if he had not preyed on these girls then why would he prey on one less pretty and less popular? He too had won awards for his teaching efforts with young people. Very few believed her story that their perceptions of his capabilities were wrong.

When I was raped as a teenager one of the reasons I did not come forward at that time was because I did not think anyone would believe me. My rapist was popular and social. Prettier and more popular girls than me voluntarily slept with him and I believed that no one would believe me if I said I hadn’t wanted to.  I did not have enough power or position to influence their perceptions of him.

We have to remember that our perceptions are ONLY what the other person lets us see. It may not be the whole truth. We do not want to think someone we know is capable of horrible things, but sometimes they are. A man whom our community believed to be a caring and loving father murdered his own wife and children. It was not until we were confronted with cold hard facts in our face that we would budge on our perception of whom we believed him to be and what he was capable of.

This is why organizations like UN Women are tweeting “Believe Her”

Believing her doesn’t mean we forgo a proper judicial system, but it means we are open to our perceptions being wrong and entering into that process to determine the truth.